Bainbridge park district prepares for a move to Phase 3

With forecasts indicating the Northwest’s rainy “Juneuary” weather will subside for the most part heading into next week, local parks and outdoor spaces will inevitably see an uptick in visitors.

Add to that the Kitsap County Board of Health and Board of Commissioners consideration in Friday morning special meetings of an application for a variance to move into phase three of Gov. Jay Inslee’s “Safe Start” plan and parks could see even larger groups of gatherings in the very near future.

The Bainbridge Island Metropolitan Park & Recreation District has been busy preparing and updating guidelines and signage since parking lots reopened and Kitsap County moved into phase 2 and will continue to do so.

The biggest change, said Park Services Division Director Dan Hamlin, will be the opportunity for rentals as group size can go up from five to 50 under a move into phase 3.

A small wedding could happen, we could have a birthday party rental for up to 50 people,” Hamlin said. “We’re looking at those types of things.”

Sports fields have been open for practices of five people or less, but in phase 3 they will be open for larger practices and games.

Some things are still not yet ready for reopening — parks will continue to have limited bathrooms with only single-stall lockable restrooms open. Hamlin said the multi-stall facilities will not reopen because the district does not have enough staff to keep up with cleaning.

Full-time employees have returned, but the large seasonal crews the district has each year will not due to budget impacts.

Playgrounds, especially those made of metal or plastic, will also likely remain closed. Hamlin said the district has not yet had good guidance on that front, though wooden structures and natural areas have had their signs removed since CDC guidance doesn’t recommend their cleaning.

The Bainbridge Island Aquatic Center is also preparing its facility to reopen in the event of a successful application to move to Phase 3. Assuming the board of health and board of commissioners approve the application on Friday and the Washington State Department of Health signs off, the aquatic center is targeting a July 1 reopening with most programs coming back on July 6, said Recreation Division Director Mark Benishek.

The reopening focuses on the resumed use of the Ray Williamson and Don Nakata pools. General public lap swimming and swim team practices for both youth teams and adult masters will commence upon reopening. There will also be limited enrollment for swim lessons and water fitness classes, but there will not yet be any large open swims.

Areas where social distancing cannot be adhered to, such as locker rooms, the sauna and hot tub will remain closed in this phase. Swimmers should be prepared to enter and exit the facility in their swimsuits. The aquatic center is also expected to ask anyone entering the pool about their health that day, and may also conduct temperature checks, as is done in some health facilities.

“We’re looking out for everybody’s well-being,” Benishek said.

Benishek said guidelines to use the pool and the facilities will be posted to by the end of this week. Questions can be directed to the customer service line at 206-842-2302.

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